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Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America Paperback – Jun 30 2011
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About the Author
Anthony Vaver is the author and publisher of EarlyAmericanCrime.com, a website that explores crime, criminals, and punishments from America’s past. He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University. He is currently working on a new book about early American criminals. He has never spent a night in jail, but he was once falsely accused of shoplifting.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Anthony Vaver keeps this book moving at a quick, enjoyable and organized pace. There was never a moment that I felt annoyed with useless, dry, or boring content; I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next. Each historical fact was effortlessly intertwined with the real life stories of death-pardoned convicts transported to England's dumping ground - the shores of America.
Finally, as a genealogist myself, I must give kudos to Mr. Vaver for doing such a find job with his Acknowledgements.
Thank you for a most excellent read Mr. Vaver.
"Between 1700 and 1775, a total of 585,800 immigrants arrived in the 13 colonies from all over the world. About 52,200 of these immigrants were convicts and prisoners (9%). Slaves by far constituted the largest group (278,400; 47%), followed by people arriving with their freedom (151,600; 26%) and indentured servants (96,600; 18%). Note that almost three-quarters of all the people arriving in the American colonies during this time period did so without their freedom" (p. 7).
As Vaver explains "transportation," he enthralls the readers with tales of notorious criminals mixed with pathos for the more innocent caught in the flawed web of what passed for 18th Century British justice. Against a backdrop peopled with criminals like the notorious Jonathan Wild and Moll King, Vaver relates stories lesser known, such as the story of a twelve year old child, Elizabeth Howard, who, in 1728, stole a small quantity of ribbon and lace. Caught and imprisoned, Elizabeth stood trial and was convicted of felony theft: a hanging offense. While awaiting execution in Newgate prison, Elizabeth petitioned that her sentence be commuted to "transportation" to the American colonies. Her petitioned worked, and she was to be released on account of her young age. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before she was released. (pp. 90-91 & 97-98).
When I bought this book, I expected to read about convicts being sent to Georgia. Vaver explains the origins of that misconception and then surprisingly reveals that most convicts sent to the colonies were landed and sold in Maryland and Virginia. It's a very good and informative book. And while it's in no manner Vaver's thesis, Vaver's book should serve as a cautionary tale to those who would rely on "privatization" (free enterprise} to mete out criminal punishment.